This Research Bulletin has been published in P.J. Taylor, P. Ni, B. Derudder, M. Hoyler, J. Huang and F. Witlox (eds) (2011) Global Urban Analysis: A Survey of Cities in Globalization London: Earthscan, pp. 245-250.
Please refer to the published version when quoting the paper.
The UK space economy has long been notorious for its primate pattern of cities centred on London and the south east. For much of the 20th century, UK governments pursued regional policies specifically to counter ‘the drift to the south' resulting from the decline of the industrial cities and towns of northern Britain from their 19th century economic prime. But such policies proved to have limited impact on the economic forces creating London 's primacy. With the rise of neoliberal globalization from the late 1970s, the prospects for the cities collectively known as ‘not-London' seemed to have been further reduced: the demise of regional policy was followed by government policy that precipitated the City of London 's ‘Big Bang'. This opened up the City to foreign banks and other financial services to ensure London would become a key locale for on-going economic globalization, and Saskia Sassen (1991) announced that London, with New York and Tokyo, was an archetypal ‘Global City'.
With this global position added to London 's national dominance, it seemed that London 's UK primacy in the new world of globalization would be greater than ever. And this was confirmed by the first measurement of global network connectivities in 2000 (Taylor et al, 2002; Taylor, 2004): London was ranked first globally and with no other UK city in the top 100 (Beaverstock et al, 2001). Other studies have highlighted the economic underperformance of UK provincial cities compared to their European counterparts (e.g. Parkinson et al, 2004, 2006). However, at the beginning of the 21st century there appeared to be a revival of provincial UK cities. New measures of global network connectivity in 2004 showed that UK cities had experienced some of the most rapid increases in global network connectivities in the world: Edinburgh, Bristol, Cardiff and Leeds being particular noteworthy in this respect (Taylor and Aranya, 2006). Further work has indicated that the UK space economy, while not becoming fully ‘balanced', has been developing intercity networks to complement the continuing London-headed urban hierarchy. In other words, since 2000, major global service providers have found it worth their while to make use of UK provincial cities as well as London (Taylor et al, 2009, 2010). This is the context in which to consider UK cities in the 2008 world city network analysis.
Table 1 shows global network connectivities for the 18 UK cities with proportionate connectivities above 0.05 – these measures show how well the different cities are integrated into the world city network. The outstanding result – the continuing dominance of London – is no surprise, and with New York it is consistently the most integrated city in the world city network. While other UK cities are still not major players in the world city network, some important world cities can now be identified. Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham each have at least one-fifth of the highest connectivity; Manchester and Birmingham have featured in the competition to be the UK's ‘second city' for more than a century and Table 1 shows that they have been joined by Edinburgh. The first two are centres of the two major economic regions outside the south east, the north west and west Midlands respectively, and are reinventing themselves as new European and world cities. Edinburgh is the fast riser based upon being the capital city of Scotland, the UK 's main political devolution (with its new service needs), as well as being home to successful banks (before the credit crisis when these data were collected). Glasgow has traditionally been a competitor for UK second city status but has now been overtaken by its Scottish neighbour Edinburgh; however it still remains important. The remaining cities are mainly regional centres with their importance reflecting either or both the economic importance of their region and the city's domination of its region: Bristol and the south west; Leeds and Yorkshire; Belfast, capital of Northern Ireland with its devolved government; Newcastle and the north east; Southampton and the south coast; Cardiff, capital of Wales, the third devolution; Nottingham and the east Midlands; Norwich and East Anglia; and Plymouth and the far south west. In addition, Aberdeen is important because of its global oil industry links; and Liverpool and Sheffield are historically major centres that, like Glasgow, are being eclipsed in service industries by neighbouring cities, Manchester and Leeds respectively. The overall message of this table is not that any UK city is seriously rivalling London, but that UK cities right across the country are integrated into the world city network to varying degrees.
Table 1: Global network connectivity of UK cities
Nevertheless, Table 2 indicates that we should not take this argument for worldwide integration of UK provincial cities too far. This table shows measures of ‘localism', the degree to which a city's connectivity is dominated by links within the country. The table largely reverses the rankings in the previous table but the key point is the separation of London from the rest. With a large negative score, London is shown to be very ‘un-local': the vast majority of its connections are beyond the UK. All the remaining cities have positive scores indicating the importance of domestic links relative to foreign connections. In this case Manchester, with its score nearest to zero, is revealed as not as local as its provincial peers, and Glasgow appears less domestic in its links than Birmingham and Edinburgh. The surprise result when comparing these data to those in Table 1 is the position of Belfast as the third least local: this may reflect its close Irish links with Dublin, and hence beyond the UK.
Table 2: Localism (relative concentration of connections within the UK)
Table 3 measures the ‘traditional globalism' of UK cities by showing their combined connectivity to London and New York (NYLON) as the ‘main street dyad' of contemporary globalization (London is therefore omitted from this table). The rankings here are only weakly related to the global network connectivities (Table 1). There is a definite top three, with positive scores that includes Edinburgh and Manchester as we might expect, but they are both below top-ranked Norwich. This may reflect strong links to London, as East Anglia has shared in London and the south east's prosperity in recent years. The five bottom-ranked cities are also not particularly predictable as they are all ‘middle-ranked' cities in Table 1; Leeds is the big surprise, its recent rise as a financial centre not being associated with the importance of NYLON connections.
Table 3: Traditional globalism through NYLON (relative concentration of connections to New York and London)
Table 4 shows city connections to what may be an emerging new globalism based upon Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. London has by far the largest connection to this Chinese triad centre, which is to be expected. The cities ranked third to seventh are also predictable – these are the major provincial cities (Table 1). But between London and these leading provincial UK cities we find Plymouth, ranked second and the only other UK city, apart from London, to score positively on this measure. To say that this is a major surprise is an understatement. It appears that in this case we have reached the limitations of our data. It can be noted that in Table 1 Plymouth only just qualifies for inclusion with a score of 0.05, the cut-off point. In addition, we can note that UK provincial cities have relatively weak links to Chinese cities. The combination of these two features means that the score for Plymouth in this particular table is potentially not very robust; it will be vulnerable to the effect of being based upon links from very few firms. Hence in this case, by stretching our evidence as far as it will go, we have been unlucky and produced what is almost certainly a maverick result.
Table 4: New globalism through the Chinese cities triad (relative concentration of connections to Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai)
In conclusion, the 2008 world city analysis has generally confirmed recent writings on UK cities in globalization: London continues to dominate, but some provincial cities are becoming important service nodes in their own right, with interesting domestic connectivities. The details of our new analyses allow us to pinpoint which are these newly successful UK cities in the world city network, and to locate where their particular geographical strengths and weaknesses are to be found.
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Parkinson, M., Champion, T., Simmie, J., Turok, I., Crookston, M., Katz, B. and Park, A. (2006) State of the English Cities, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM), London
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Sassen, S. (1991) The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ
Taylor, P. J. (2004) World City Network: A Global Urban Analysis, Routledge, London
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Taylor, P. J., Evans, D. M., Hoyler, M., Derudder, B. and Pain, K. (2009) ‘The UK space economy as practised by advanced producer service firms: identifying two distinctive polycentric city-regional processes in contemporary Britain', International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, vol 33, pp700–718
Taylor, P. J., Hoyler, M., Evans, D. M. and Harrison, J. (2010) ‘Balancing London ? A preliminary investigation of the ‘Core Cities' and ‘Northern Way' spatial policy initiatives using multi-city corporate and commercial law firms', European Planning Studies, vol 18, pp1285-1299
Note: This Research Bulletin has been published in P.J. Taylor, P. Ni, B. Derudder, M. Hoyler, J. Huang and F. Witlox (eds) (2010) Global Urban Analysis: A Survey of Cities in Globalization London: Earthscan, pp. 245-250.